Starting in 2019, pharmacists in the District of Columbia will be able to both prescribe and dispense birth control without a doctor, thanks to a new law passed by Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The Defending Access to Women’s Health Care Services Amendment Act of 2018 was signed into law yesterday, with Mayor Bowser saying, “We trust women to make their own decisions [on birth control].”
Under the law, pharmacists will be able to prescribe up to 12 months of hormonal contraception after women self-screen using a tool created by the DC Board of Pharmacy to identify risk factors that might make birth control unsafe to prescribe.
In a statement to Refinery29, Bowser said, “Preventative care saves lives and reduces healthcare costs. From extending open enrollment to creating forward-thinking legislation that keeps Washingtonians safe from detrimental health care reforms, in Washington, DC, we are committed to ensuring all residents are able to get the care and services they need to thrive and get on pathways to the middle class.”
The law also requires that patients have access to copay-free birth control, regardless of whether the receive coverage through insurance providers, Medicaid, or the D.C. Healthcare Alliance. DC is the eighth jurisdiction in the US that allows for pharmacists to prescribe birth control.
The bill was tabled and written by councilperson Charles Allen, who suggested the decision was driven by federal rollbacks of health care that directly affect women nationwide.
“No other state or local jurisdiction in the country has to worry that a random congressman is going to try and meddle with a locally passed law,” Allen said to NBC Washington. “But I am worried that with a Congress obsessed with overturning a law that protects women from being charged more for basic care, we need to be ready to fight back and say hands off DC.”
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(Photos via Mark Wilson/Getty Images +Drew Angerer/Getty Images)